NCSSM 2011 Summer Symposium, The Waterless West: An Historical Overview

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An historical overview of western migration and its relationship to water in the American West for students in "The Waterless West" course, part of the NCSSM 2011 Summer Symposium on the Global Water Crisis

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NCSSM 2011 Summer Symposium, The Waterless West: An Historical Overview

  1. 1. The waterless west<br />How the West was Won<br />
  2. 2. The Great American Desert<br />
  3. 3. Patterns of migration<br />
  4. 4. “Manifest Destiny”<br />
  5. 5. Progress!<br />Cyrus Thomas: “rain follows the plow”<br />It works, but not for a whole region<br />This obstacle and frame of thinking<br /> leads to…<br />The evolution of riparian rights in the East <br />He who controls the source, controls the water<br />And the evolution of prior appropriation rights in the West<br />Water rights are separate from land ownership and are allocated to those who first put the water to beneficial use<br />…in essence, a water “free-for-all”<br />
  6. 6. The West as we think of it today<br />
  7. 7. How does the West compare to the East?<br />Los Angeles<br />Average yearly rainfall: <15 inches<br />Population: 9.8 million<br />Las Vegas<br />Average yearly rainfall: <4 inches<br />Population: 478,000+<br />Durham, NC<br />Average yearly rainfall: about 48 inches<br />Population: <263,000<br />
  8. 8. What Drew So Many People to Places with Not a lot of Water?<br />GOLD!<br />Cheap (sometimes FREE), available land<br />Population pressures<br />Economic Development<br />e.g. LA Chamber of Commerce’s “California on Wheels” program (1880s), etc.<br />
  9. 9. And, A Walnut Elephant!<br /><ul><li>Commissioned by the LA Chamber of Commerce and constructed of 850 lbs of California walnuts for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair</li>

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